Please Explain: Tipping

Friday, October 08, 2010

Doling out 15 percent of the check to the waiter is standard, but how much should you tip cab drivers and hairdressers?  Today’s Please Explain is all about tipping. Milla Bloch and Diane Gottsman explain how much to give, to whom, and where tipping comes from.

Do you have different tipping methods based on service? Do you tip a cab driver the same way you tip a waitress or a hairdresser?

Current and former waiters: do you tip more generously than others?


Milla Bloch and Diane Gottsman

Comments [95]

Love the Leonard Lopate show but this was horrible. Two peewees telling us to throw away our hard earned $$ to get people to do their job.

All you folks in the service industry, take some pride in what you're doing. If you don't like your job, find something you like or work somewhere where you don't interface with customers.

Nov. 03 2010 01:23 PM
Sam from NYC

I am sorry but the whole tipping culture in the USA sets perverse incentives. The price for services paid should already include ADEQUATE compensation for the service provider (no matter if business principal or employee). Anything on top of that should be discretionary and voluntary and the recipient of the TIP should never be in the position to depend on the tip for their livelihood. In the US, a tip is a patron-paid payroll subsidy and not an expression of gratitude or satisfaction.

Oct. 26 2010 01:26 PM
Carol from Brooklyn

You guys have it all wrong: we should tip for service, not for food. If you have a $10 meal or a $100 meal, if the server has done essentially the same service, then he or she should get the same tip. Of course, the higher priced meal may require more effort, more finesse, more personal service than the lower-priced meal, and the tip would reflect that, but to give an arithmetically determined tip based on the same percent of the check is unfair to those who work so hard in a popular priced restaurant. So, I often give !2-15% in a high priced restaurant and 25-30% in a low-priced one. LET"S BE FAIR!

Oct. 10 2010 10:52 PM
Dave in Kingsbridge

Pay people a good wage, and eliminate tipping. Making people work for tips is dumb.
Last year I didn't tip the super or the door men because I caught the super gossiping about me to a neighbor, one of the door men was rude to my girl friend and the other super told a neighbor something about me, and neighbor also happened to be a co-worker. Sorry, I'm not tipping because someone on your show says I have to.
Also, I have noticed livery cabs add to the fare that which they think should be a tip, so I don't tip them unless the fare is very reasonable and figure they haven't added something extra to the fare.
One more thing, Chevy's at 8th Ave. and 42nd St. automatically adds 18% to ALL checks. Watch out for places that do this!!!!

Oct. 10 2010 10:31 PM
James from Nyack

As an airline pilot who took a large post 9/11 pay cut, I am ready to get in on the action.

Should I have my hat in hand as you deplane? Like the NewYorker joke from a few years ago that depicted the pilot at the door saying " How about a little something for the landing?"

Oct. 09 2010 11:25 AM

Tip on PRE TAX NOT post tax, so obvious!

Oct. 08 2010 03:25 PM
Natalie T. from NYC

I would imagine the overwhelming majority of waiters, tip generously. They do so because they understand what it means to work for tips (irregardless of it being a fair employment practice or not). I have a friend who told me that she listed good tipper as an attribute of a potential mate on a dating site. It indicated a generosity of spirit.
Generosity in all forms, is a wonderful thing.

Oct. 08 2010 02:16 PM
Margaret from NY

Do not agree that someone should be tipped even if the service is not good. Isn't tipping a gesture of gratitude for 'good' service?

Oct. 08 2010 01:55 PM

To Sue from the West Village, who suggested that people who complain about tips have never worked a service job - your rant about, "Service jobs are very PERSONAL and are generally low paying" makes me think you doth protest too much. I have worked service jobs and resented it when co-workers who were nasty and slacked off got tipped the same as those of us who worked hard. If you got a bad tip, maybe you should look inward at how you did your job, rather than calling people selfish and stingy. Just a thought.

Oct. 08 2010 01:03 PM
Amy from Manhattan

To rob from nyc: would you feel comfortable asking your barber how he feels about your tipping him now that he has his own shop? Sometimes asking directly is the best approach.

Oct. 08 2010 01:00 PM
Peter Rymwid Photography from Wayne, NJ

America became artificially obsessed about tipping. Workers here are not being payed and being cared for adequately, so the cost of supporting them is being projected on the consumer. I don't think that is fair for everyone. Traditionally tip was given as a reward for an exceptionally good service, but not a supportive money for the worker.
Most of the service people are not even properly trained for their job as it is mostly a temporary gig.
In Europe, if you give 20% tip at the restaurant they will look at you as you are stupid and probably American.
It was explained to me in Spain by the owner of the restaurant I was dinning in that you should leave only a symbolic amount of money on the restaurant table since their waiters are well payed, well educated in their profession and they do not need a support.

Peter Rymwid (frequent traveller)

Oct. 08 2010 12:57 PM

There was no debate! Everyone just seems to be rolling over on the issue -

- tip even if service is bad (and yet tipping is supposed to act as an incentive!)

- tip to the upper levels (if people actually did that, it would lead to permanant tip inflation)

- if in doubt, tip

What about the other side -

- If I decide to buy and expensive bottle of wine - why should the waiter get 20% of the extra cost for doing the same job? I often won't buy expensive items, because I know I'm going to have an extra 20% on it.

- It is patronising to tip, makes waiters into performing monkeys, particularly when a very substantial part of income comes from tips - how about a fair wage for the job like everyone else?

- Tipping leads to anxietys & doubts on both sides with no discernable payback (I've not noticed poor service in countries and services with no tipping).

- Tipping often leads to annoying service - only one waiter will deal with you (beware the waterguy who takes an order!), and they keep butting in, asking you how your meal is - this is not good service, it's just annoying.

Oct. 08 2010 12:55 PM
bog from bay ridge

the whole tipping idea is disguising. server should have a decent salary, pay taxes like everybody else. tipping is the one thing that prevent me to go to restaurants more often. i just don't feel comfortable to give people momey and judge their performance with the amount of money i give.

Oct. 08 2010 12:51 PM
Karen again from South Harlem

Leonard, by way of compensating for today's absurd interview, please schedule a tip-related edition of "please explain" with guests who aren't corporate specialists. Let's have some common-sense types on the show. Someone who represents "the people" better than these guests.

Corporations, and individuals who can and/or want to afford personal coaches on etiquette, are probably a lot more monied than "the people." Personally, I watch my pennies. On a daily basis, I can't afford the stress of thinking (or trying not to think) about whether the things I pay for are underpriced for whatever reason, such as the underpayment of customer-facing service workers.

Today's show demonstrates, as if we weren't sure (I, for one, didn't need clarification), that corporations are not, actually, human beings.

But that, as we know, is another story.

Oct. 08 2010 12:50 PM
Mike C. from Tribeca

Being a life-long working class schlub, I'm a big believer in tipping, but I'm not ashamed to confess I once tipped a waitperson one cent for delivering the worst service it has ever been my displeasure to witness. If the U.S. Mint produced half-pennies, I would have left one. But to leave behind nothing on the table is simply unforgivable.

Oct. 08 2010 12:45 PM
Zahara from Hoboken

Received a racist treatment from a Red Lobster waitress years ago. I tipped that waitress good and still regret it to this day.

Oct. 08 2010 12:45 PM
Sandra Jordan from new york city

Sorry. Bad cab ride gets a bad tip. And every once in a while no tip. And if the there is no tip I'll tell him/her why. Politely. Good ride, pleasant driver, I'll tip over 20%. Reward what you want to have happen...

Oct. 08 2010 12:44 PM
Alexa from nyc

Tipping is totally out of control. EVERYONE expecs something now. I work for a small theatre company--nobody tips us, and we do not expect it, we earn less than most waiters. Your guests make it sound as if EVERYBODY must get tipped --and always over tipped. Do not tip for bad service, WHY?? There is no excuse for bad service but bad attitude. I have waited tables for many years, and know that for sure!

Oct. 08 2010 12:43 PM
gi from brooklyn

RE:I feel so discombobulated about tipping-

* expectedat a "medical" spa as well as a regualr spa for aesthtic services?

-and is it a full 15-20% (for massages, laser treatments etc.)?

Oct. 08 2010 12:42 PM
Colette from New York

I was particularly interested in how much to tip my super on holidays (that was part of the billing of the segment) - did I miss that??

Oct. 08 2010 12:42 PM
billyhome from New York

It's ridiculous that tipping has now gone to a 20% "Standard." Every time the price of a meal goes up, wait staff receive a raise also. So if a meal is now 10% more than before, and the tip stays at 15%, staff have also received a 10% raise in terms of tip. Adding another 5% to the 15% is crazy. And tipping should be for the meal only, not taxes (or, in terms of tolls, not for toll charges, either). It's for service on the cost of the service provided, not the cost of add-ons that have nothing to do with the actual item being bought.

Oct. 08 2010 12:42 PM

The tip should reflect a quality of service - plain and simple. Your guest Milla Block makes no sense.

Oct. 08 2010 12:42 PM
Sue from West Village

Wow! These comments are shocking! Who knew so many public radio listeners were so selfish and stingy! Service jobs are very PERSONAL and are generally low paying. It's easy to see who among you folks that have commented has NEVER worked in the service industry. You should try it sometime!

Oct. 08 2010 12:41 PM

pl answer the pre-tax / post-tax question!

Oct. 08 2010 12:39 PM
Bob Moore from NYC

Where does the tip money go? If you tip in cash, for example is there a differentce compared with tipping by adding to a credit card slip?
Are there any rules for the distribution of the money from tips? I have heard some horror stories about even the best restaurants.

Oct. 08 2010 12:39 PM

I consider myself a fair tipper for good services rendered, cabs , restaurants, etc.. But Tipping is getting way out of control. For example, if I go to a hair salon, I tip my stylist, who I have had a long relationship with, period. I don't tip the person who washes my hair. My view is that they are in training and working their way up and are never there the next time I get my haircut. If the stylist wants to share in a small portion of their tips, this is fine. I also agree with caller that there is pressure to tip for fear of NOT getting adequate service. And if service is poor then the tip should reflect this.

Oct. 08 2010 12:39 PM
Gary from Newark

This is ridiculous. Where does it freagin' end. These people are doing their effin' job.
Who the ef. doesn't get tipped. At this rate,
only the Gates and the Trumps will be able to afford to go out, get married or vacation.

Oct. 08 2010 12:38 PM
Rob from New Jersey

What about where the service ends up adding to your stress and denigrating your experience. I was recently in Mumbai at a very nice hotel and was so constantly deluged by various staff that the tipping became irritating and somewhat exhausting - definitely making the experience worse.

Oct. 08 2010 12:38 PM
BT from NY

This conversation sounds a bit excessive. It can't be that every time I have an interaction with a person I would need to tip them on top of paying for whatever I am getting. We should expect that employees get paid reasonably and if they don't we should not go to that establishment. There are organizations that give a stamp of approval to places that pay their workers properly.

Oct. 08 2010 12:38 PM
Jerry Schindlinger from Manhattan

My wife and I have always lived in rent stabilized no service buildings. This year we moved on uptown, top a "deluse apartment in the sky." The service is great but we have no idea whether to tip each and every person for each and every service, or whether to wait until Christmas. Please help -- its no about money; its about doing the right thing.

Oct. 08 2010 12:38 PM
Meera Singh

Do You tip on liquor, like an expensive wine?

Oct. 08 2010 12:38 PM
Victoria from Millburn, NJ

I have a small baby, so we get a lot of take out and deliveries at home. What is the rule for tipping when picking up take out, and when getting food delivered at home? Thanks!

Oct. 08 2010 12:38 PM
Pat O'Toole from Manhattan

What is protocol for tipping when ordering expensive wine? Do you tip on the total bill?

Oct. 08 2010 12:37 PM
Deborah from Harrison, NY

A hair stylist does not "work for tips". There is ambiguity (including in your guests' protocols for tipping) as to this guideline for tipping. I treat myself to haircuts at a very expensive Manhattan salon. My stylist makes a very good living and does not "work for tips". Why should I tip him (I do, but I feel it is ridiculous). By the way, in my youth I worked in restaurants and bars and depended on tips. I tip well!

Oct. 08 2010 12:37 PM

dont tip for bad service!!!

Oct. 08 2010 12:37 PM
judy from NY

I keep a car at a garage uptown. I pay a monthly rate and tip at XMAS- they usually leave a XMAS card on the seat with the names of all the guys and I tip cash, keeping in mind how many guys there are. ( I hope they are pooling it- as they say they are) Should I also be tipping each time I pick up my car? Right now I don't.

Also- I worked as a waitress at a restaurant and we always tipped out to the bus boys , host and cooks.

Oct. 08 2010 12:37 PM
Byas from New York

Friends from Spain once came to NY with an important delegation of 4 people whom they wanted to impress. They asked me to recommend a fine restaurant to which they could bring the group after the opera. I suggested the Four Seasons. My friends asked me to come, but I had already had a quick supper of leftovers.

However, I nevertheless joined them and ordered a bowl of soup.

At the end of the meal, the big honcho of the delegation took the bill.

As we were preparing to leave, the maitre d' asked me discretely if there had been a problem. I told him that everything had been excellent and asked if there had been a problem with the tip. He replied that there hadn't been any.

As the others were retrieving their coats from the coat check room, I put a $96 tip on my credit card.

Later, in a taxi alone with my 2 friends, who had glanced back from the coat check line and sensed what was going on, insisted on repaying me.

Oct. 08 2010 12:36 PM
Wendy from Harlem

When tipping at a restaurant, should you tip on the subtotal, pre-tax? Or do you tip on the total bill, including taxes?

Oct. 08 2010 12:36 PM

These ladies infuriate me. Their comments make me want to *not* tip. When I started going out and paying for myself it was 10-15%. Why 20%?

What really bothers me is when I am a good tipper ($10 on a $26 bill) for a service provider that I go to once a month, it does *not* get me better service!

Why would you tip a rental car shuttle driver? WHY WHY WHY? Ridiculous.

And double the tax does NOT come to 20%, it comes to 16%.

How disgusting that you need to tip a nurse.

Oct. 08 2010 12:36 PM
Cassandra Neyenesch from Williamsburg

I once waited on Quentin Tarantino (at the late lamented Chumley's) and he gave me an 8% tip. I complained about this to one of my regulars, and he reminded me of Steve Busecemi's invective against tipping in Reservoir Dogs, perhaps reflecting Tarantino's own views. But it really made me mad!

Oct. 08 2010 12:36 PM
Randy from brooklyn

I'm new to "drop-off" laundry service and not sure if I should tip.

Oct. 08 2010 12:36 PM
bog from bay ridge

the whole tipping idea is disguising. server should have a decent salary, pay taxes like everybody else. tipping is the one thing that prevent me to go to restaurants more often. i just don't feel comfortable to give people momey and judge their performance with the amount of money i give.

Oct. 08 2010 12:36 PM
Nan from Inwood

How much do I tip the Redcaps at the airport or train station who push me in a wheelchair and help me get on the train/plane?

Oct. 08 2010 12:34 PM
Leah from NYC

OF COURSE people are glad to receive a tip (except when it's a no-no). HOW ABSURD THIS INTERVIEW IS! Who DOESN'T want more money?!!! Jeez.

Oct. 08 2010 12:34 PM

There was an interview with Steve Dublanica, author of the blog and book "Waiter Rant" and the forthcoming "Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity" in Salon recently.

The interview is here:

One of the first things he says is:

"But the thing that's always amazed me is that the quality of service has almost no effect on tipping. When I first started out, I thought, "If I'm nice and efficient, people will tip me well!" Not true!... But a study by Professor Michael Lynn at Cornell found that the customer's perception of service affects the tip only 2 percent of the time. He said, "Service affects tipping as much as whether the sun is shining outside or not.""

Oct. 08 2010 12:34 PM
John from Manhattan

Adequate, typical service gets 15% and not one cent more! Its ridiculous to suggest more generous gratuities. 20% of my meal's cost for average service. Shame on you!

Oct. 08 2010 12:34 PM
Sabrina French from NYC

This conversation should be about how tipping has devolved into extortion. It is definitely no longer a voluntary act. See what happens if you don't tip your super or garbage collector. It's a shame because the original premise was a good one.

And these guests reenforce the notion that tipping is expected.

Oct. 08 2010 12:34 PM
John from New Jersey

What makes anyone an "expert" on etiquette? These rules are somehow carved in stone?

Oct. 08 2010 12:33 PM

Leave a tip after really bad or rude service in a restaurant?!? NO WAY.
Tipping is a reward for adequate or good service, with the percentage proportionate to the service.
I’d feel like a masochistic sucker if I rewarded
bad service.

Oct. 08 2010 12:33 PM
Marsha Andrews from NYC UWS

What do you tip the hair washers?

Oct. 08 2010 12:33 PM
Jennifer from Manhattan

What's the NYC tipping protocol for Fresh Direct? Given the $5 fee, do I add another $5-10 tip, making total delivery charges $10-15?

Oct. 08 2010 12:33 PM
Adele from Brooklyn

I agree with the caller who expressed frustration about rampant tipping. WHY do we rely on tips? How did this get started, and is there a way to ween ourselves off of tips? I don't want to make my hairdresser starve, but why is it a GIVEN? Also: I can't believe all the various people your guests say we should be tipping. It's getting ridiculous!

Oct. 08 2010 12:33 PM
Steven Birnbaum from Manhattan

I'm tortured by the "complicated" tip. I've been told to leave 20-25% for the food, 10% for the wine. I have to pull out a calculator, subtract tax and wine to find the amount spent on food, multiply, write that amount down, then do the same for wine, then add back the amount for the food! Then, in NYC, there is a quick rule of thumb to "double the tax." But sometimes there is tax on liquor, sometimes not! It all gives me a headache!

Oct. 08 2010 12:33 PM
Elisabeth from Brooklyn

I am surprised that there is no mention of the fact that employers in the US are allowed to not pay minimum wage in professions where tips can be expected. Waiters often make only $1 per hour because of that law. That is the reason that the service is not included in the restaurant bill.
In Europe, the service is included. Therefore, service charge has to be distinguished from the actual tip.

Oct. 08 2010 12:32 PM
danny from harlem

bonuses from wall street firms and other employers play this role in other fields

Oct. 08 2010 12:32 PM
Ed from NYC

I'm a waiter. First, don't know what restaurant Leonard is talking about regarding kitchen workers getting there well before waitstaff and leaving long after. That has never been my experience. Kitchen always leaves earlier.

Second, I hate tip jars. As a waiter, I have to tend to people for hours. Counterpeople do not.

I especially don't tip hipsters who above it all while serving some ridiculous version of some staple of society's general diet.

Oct. 08 2010 12:31 PM

I am disgusted by these guests. This is how mediocrity happens. If I tip every waiter, no matter how awful they are (and I distinguish between things beyond their control (e.g., slow kitchen) and their own surliness), I essentially tell good servers, "Don't bother." This is like my son's teacher telling everyone, "great job." It devalues quality.

Oct. 08 2010 12:31 PM
gi from brooklyn

I feel so discombobulated about tipping-

* expectedat a "medical" spa as well as a regualr spa for aesthtic services?

-and is it a full 15-20% (for massages, laser treatments etc.)?

Oct. 08 2010 12:30 PM
Janie Heath from New York City

BTW, waiters and waitresses are expected to share tips with the rest of the staff. They don't get to keep it all. Hope some current waitstaff calls in. And a friend of mine who worked as a waiter told me the management forced the staff to give some of their tips to management. Also I suspect some restaurants in New York employ illegal workers who work for only tips. According to the New York Times, some takeout delivery people work this way.

Oct. 08 2010 12:30 PM
Ellen from Brooklyn

I think I'm a good tipper, but I do not make a lot of money myself. But I do it, because I think it's important. However, when your guest says that an apple is not enough of a gift for a teacher anymore, that upsets me. Why do we need to give everyone we interact with extra money and gifts? It should be an extra thing. I find it under reasonable to include it for everything.

Oct. 08 2010 12:29 PM
Mike C. from Tribeca

People actually make a living consulting corporate clients on the proper way to tip? If one ever needed evidence that there's a class structure in this country, there you are.

Oct. 08 2010 12:29 PM
Jesse Hackell from Suffern, NY

When servers pool their tips--especially in view of credit card use--how, exactly, does a better tip reward YOUR server for outstanding service?

Oct. 08 2010 12:28 PM
Elisabeth from Brooklyn

I am surprised that there is no mention of the fact that employers in the US are allowed to not pay minimum wage in professions where tips can be expected. Waiters often make only $1 per hour because of that law. That is the reason that the service is not included in the restaurant bill.
In Europe, the service is included. Therefore, service charge has to be distinguished from the actual tip.

Oct. 08 2010 12:27 PM
Joel Schwalb from Nyack, NY

Years ago my grandfather would visit from California and would always take my wife and I and cousins to his favorite restaurant, The Old Homestead. He was a frugal tipper and the hawk eye old time waiters there would know the amount of the tip before it hit the table. We would always have cash ready and as one of us lead our grandpa out another would supplement his tip.

Oct. 08 2010 12:26 PM
Karen from South Harlem

I wish establishments would pay their service workers a decent wage. I hate the idea of tipping for less-than-adequate service. It's not right that I (through my tip) should be responsible for the actual livelihood of someone who provides low-quality service.

Oct. 08 2010 12:25 PM
katie from scarsdale, ny

My husband and I always disagree on how much to tip a delivery person -- whether we've ordered a $15 pizza or $75 of sushi, should we tip 20% of the food charge, or give a set amount for driving to my house?

Oct. 08 2010 12:25 PM
Colette from New York

How can we change the whole system - give waiters, for instance, a proper salary - so that the diner can get back to the original idea of tipping being EXTRA for good service, not a prescribed cost of the meal?

Oct. 08 2010 12:24 PM

Do these ladies think we're all made of money? So if you can't tip generously don't get your hair cut or go out to dinner? And yes, basic tipping should be for good service -- and more if the service goes above and beyond (which is not that often). It's like a standing ovation if you stand up for everything the meaning is lost.

Oct. 08 2010 12:24 PM
Nancy Tuck from Naples, FL

I've always been confused as to what to tip the person who washes my hair because it's not tied into the cost of either the cut or the color. What do you suggest?
(If the cut and/or color is $60, for example, I usually give $10 to that person. Now I know that it should be $12, but what about the hair washer?)

Oct. 08 2010 12:24 PM
Christina Schwerin from Brooklyn

We're not supposed to tip on tax! Or at least that's what I've been told. It's quite annoying when in a cab and they calculate the tip for you, however, this is based on all the other charges. Can anyone comment on this?

Oct. 08 2010 12:24 PM
Barney from Manhattan

Let's face it, tipping in the US is a form of baksheesh and it is unseemly.

Tipping allows business owners to underpay workers and misrepresent the actual cost of a good or service.

I'll take the European model any day.

Oct. 08 2010 12:24 PM
Frank Hall from Ridgewood, NJ

There hasn't been much discussion about the fact that the tip may be voluntary, but that is a structural part of the service industry. In the case of a restaurant, for instance, it's really a part of the cost of the meal, because the server is being paid only about $2.00 per hour by the restaurant owner, and the balance of their compensation has to come from somewhere. It's really a great system. It makes the server almost an independent contractor, with each customer as a "client," with all the inherent motivation to provide great service right there in each individual client/customer interaction.

Oct. 08 2010 12:24 PM
Anna from NYC

What does someone tip the nail salon
is it according to the price 15-20% or a standard tip amount?? I never know...pls help!

Oct. 08 2010 12:23 PM
antonio from park slope

I don't know if the show did this or not. But they should have played the clip from "Reservoir Dogs"; there is a great back in forth about tipping in the movie...

Oct. 08 2010 12:23 PM
Fred Plotkin from New York City

Question: I know people who tip chambermaids upon checking into a hotel to assure good service. Other people tip them upon departure. And it seems that many people no longer tip chambermaids. Discuss.

Oct. 08 2010 12:22 PM
Carlos from NJ

Are you supposed to tip on the pre or post tax amount?

Oct. 08 2010 12:22 PM
Sheldon from Sheldon

I tip generously but does every point of retail need to have a tip jar? I almost feel like its a waste of money throwing a buck into a tip jar when my hipster barrister has his back turned or simply doesn't even acknowledge it.

Oct. 08 2010 12:22 PM
Sue from NYC

When tipping at a restaurant do you base the percentage on the amount of the bill prior to the tax or after tax?

Oct. 08 2010 12:21 PM
Patricia from FH

I will not tip for horrible service. I once had a waitress sooooo bad, she completely forgot our order. Other tables that were seated after us received the orders first and then she got our order completely wrong. I left a penny, that's how much her service was worth.

Oct. 08 2010 12:20 PM
Michael from NJ

Do you tip for resturant take out?

Oct. 08 2010 12:19 PM
Frank from Manhattan

Tipping allows employers to avoid paying a fair wage to service personnel, particularly where undocumented employees are involved. Restauranteurs know they can pay minimum wage -- or less -- because patrons will pick up the slack.

Oct. 08 2010 12:19 PM
sue from brooklyn

never mind about etiquette - how about being fair.
what about tipping the kitchen staff in a restaurant? They are the people working in hot, over 200 deegree heat, making your meal great but not getting paid any better than the wait staff.

Oct. 08 2010 12:18 PM
Edward from NJ

I generally tip 20%, but I don't include the tax when I do the math.

Oct. 08 2010 12:18 PM
Morty Schiff from Metuchen, New Jersey

The explanation that the origin of the word "tip" lies in the acronym "to insure promptmness" is false -- surprised that your guest would repeat it. Check with -- you'll see an example of word "tip" going back to the 1700s, whereas there's not an example of the use of the acronym device earlier than the 20th century! Thanks.

Oct. 08 2010 12:17 PM
Mike C. from Tribeca

I well remember the first time I visited Barcelona and being flabbergasted upon finding that tipping was a no-no.

A bit o' trivia -- James Joyce was a lavish tipper, to the unending consternation of his wife, Nora.

Oct. 08 2010 12:17 PM
Janie Heath from New York City

The legal minimum wage for waiters and waitresses in the US is $2.13--and taxes are withheld based on the tips they are assumed to have received.

They definitely work for tips.

I am a NYS licensed massage therapist. I do NOT accept tips when I work for myself--although many of my colleagues do. When I work at a spa, gratuities are a big part of my income and I expect 20%.

Oct. 08 2010 12:16 PM
Tom from Upper West Side

I always try to be considerate, but, come on, just how many people will decline a tip, if it is offered?

Oct. 08 2010 12:16 PM
Roger from Astoria, New York

I'd like to thank Ms. Gottsman for thinking of rental car drivers as servers worthy of tipping. I worked for Enterprise Rent a Car for a year and a half, having probably driven around over 400 people during that time, and only received two tips.

Oct. 08 2010 12:16 PM
Erica from Manhattan

This on the origin of "tip" from Michael Quinion, whose World Wide Words Web site comments on language:

Q What is the origin of the word tip as in the tip you would give a waitress at a restaurant?
A Could I first dispose of the odd belief that it is an acronym for the phrase To Improve Performance? Modern folk etymology has a curious idea that the source of almost any short word lies in an acronym (perhaps because we’re surrounded by them), but the truth is that few such inventions are found before the 1930s.
Actually, this is a most interesting word. There are three distinct senses of tip in English: the one for an extremity probably comes from Old Norse; the one with the sense of overturn possibly also comes from a Scandinavian language, though nobody is sure. The one you’re asking about may derive from the German tippen, or possibly also be connected with the idea of an extremity, though authorities in language history are hedging their bets through lack of evidence.
It turns up first in the thirteenth century, meaning to touch lightly (as in the game tip and run). By the early 1600s, it had become thieves’ cant with the sense of handing something over, or passing something surreptitiously to another person. This may derive from the idea of lightly touching somebody’s arm in order to communicate. (This is supported by other appearances of the word in phrases like tip the wink and tip off and the noun tip for a piece of inside information, say on a horse race.)
One specific thing that was passed was a small sum of money. By the beginning of the eighteenth century it had taken on its modern meaning of giving a gratuity for a small service rendered; the first recorded use is in George Farquhar’s play The Beaux Stratagem of 1706 (“Then I, Sir, tips me the Verger with half a Crown”). By the 1750s, it could also mean the gratuity itself.

Oct. 08 2010 12:15 PM

what about the cup next to the register in the dunkin donuts

Oct. 08 2010 12:14 PM
Sandra from Astoria

Are you NOT supposed to tip the barkeep at pubs in England? I was really confused about this when I visited London!

Oct. 08 2010 12:13 PM
John from Ithaca, NY

According to, the etymology your guest provided for the word "tip" (an acronym for "To Ensure Promptness") is false:

Oct. 08 2010 12:13 PM
jon from white plains

hi - what about full-service gas stations? i usually don't tip, but i feel bad about it...

love your show!


white plains, ny

Oct. 08 2010 12:13 PM
rob from nyc

according to wikipedia "to insure promptness" is a "backronym" and not an actually etymological origin of the word "tip".

i have any interesting question about when it is appropriate to tip: for years, i went to a barber who worked at another's salon, and I used to tip him because i knew he was keeping only a small portion of the fee I was paying. recently, the barber opened his own shop and i know he pockets 100% of the fee - is it still appropriate to tip him?

Oct. 08 2010 12:11 PM
Joy Anzarouth from Midtown west manhattan

I am an electrologist (I do electrolysis as method of permanent hair removal) and
skin care specialist with my own practice, working on my own. Even as an owner/operator, some people want to tip and others do not. Thus, I have made it my policy NOT to accept any tips. It eliminates discussion, discomfort and potential anger and may serve as an extra incentive to a client.

Oct. 08 2010 11:35 AM

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